Dangerously dandy holiday collection: Orley knit ties 2012
Orley is a one of those divisive brands- you either love them to bits or you hate them and though this write-up on Orley knit ties can be taken as tacit endorsement (it is), I was invariably more intrigued by the creative process in what I feel is probably one of the best if not the most effective ways of making a personal statement within the confines of classic elegance. It’s not quite the level of Thom Brownesque camouflage pants and blazer but it’s definitely more than a dip of the toe in the water. This is sprezzetura in knit.
Orley Holiday Collection 2012 knit ties
The Orley trio of Matthew, Alex (both Orley) and Samantha Florence is really a gathering of sartorial serendipity. The brothers, born exactly 12 months apart, developed an early interest in fashion and essentially worked in rival retail outlets during their formative years. While the introduction of a woman occasionally leads to a Yoko Ono situation; when Matthew met Samantha, it was more of a meeting of hearts as well as minds.
The relationship between Matt and Sam would take them to two international fashion capitals- Paris and ultimately New York and while Alex was getting educated in the finer points of art and fashion (NYU and later Parsons), the couple would be working in the fashion industries, refining their tastemaking skills where the trio with a combined ten years of shared experience at Helmut Lang, rag & bone and Thom Browne would eventually birth: Orley.
You mention “fusing craftsmanship and design”- what is the crafting process?
Well for us, as important as design is, quality and craftsmanship are equally so. We want to create a product that won’t just look amazing but will last for years. We work with an amazing family-run Italian factory that work with some of the most recognized brands in the world and they have a really great sense of how to manufacture our designs so as to give them the most durability and longevity. Giving our customer a product that they know will stay with them for a long time is not easy but one of the most important pillars of any brand and is extremely important to us as we grow.
Drawing on an array of influences- you must have a preference? What are your individual favourite influences?
There are a lot of things we find ourselves returning to often – especially bands that we love such as The Beach Boys, Bowie, The Velvet Underground, The Beatles – but that is only a small aspect of who we are. On a much more nuanced level we are influenced by art and design. We definitely have an affinity for midcentury American artists like Rauschenberg, Frank Stella and Cy Twombly. Ultimately we want to imbue our product with the culture that inspires us – we know that our customer who is buying these pieces has an appreciation for these things as well, and wants that represented in the clothes they wear.
In the context of Orley knitwear, please define what visceral and idiosyncratic means to you
Our main goal is creating a product that other people aren’t making – and that is where the visceral aspect of what we do comes from. On a shelf, we want a shoppers eye to go right to our products. Idiosyncratic describes more the way in which we design. We want to give each piece a point of difference that makes it special for the wearer.
Why do you consider yourselves a ‘subversive nod’ to designers of classic American menswear?
Hopefully we are working within the parameters of classicism but pushing the envelope at the same time. We are not interesting in doing something conceptual just for the sake of being conceptual – everything we do has a purpose, and that is really the beauty of menswear.
There’s this resurgence of the classically suited gent and a renewed interest in the traditional seat of menswear- Savile Row- What are your thoughts on this and is Orley affected or otherwise influenced by this?
We are invested in quality manufacturing – we make all of our knits in Italy and as we expand into more categories we similarly want to work with the best manufacturers. In terms of Saville Row – Thomas Nutter is definitely one of our favorite menswear brands of all time. The Abbey Road and Let it Be era Beatles suits are iconic.
For Alex- Do you consider yourself influenced by rag & bone? If so, how so?
We have all been influenced by our work experiences, and I think we bring those past experiences with us more in the sense of looking at people who have grown successful businesses in this industry and emulating that, as opposed to riffing on other people’s aesthetics.
Sam : My training has been in the workplace rather than the classroom. My first job out of college was at Helmut Lang working under the Vice President of Sales where I was immersed in everything – including sales, retail, marketing, and merchandising – and it’s there where I learned so much about the business of fashion. And since we started working on Orley, I continue to learn more and more each day. I really feel that doing is the best training, and for now, I think running a small fashion brand is all I’m interested in pursuing in terms of education.
Matt: When it comes to the design while each of us handle creative duties in some capacity Alex definitely takes the reigns with the technical design and I think that allows each of us to focus on what we do best.
Now, most great bands/trios split (and we’d be sad for sure)- Any fears of a “Yoko Ono” situation?
Yoko always was one of our favorite Beatles…
What’s next for Orley?
Knits are always going to be the focal point of our collections but we are launching a full range menswear collection for Spring Summer 2014 so stay tuned.